The Brooklyn Nets were without two of their stars on Saturday night when they took on the Dallas Mavericks and it showed. Both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were out due to injury. Durant continues to recover from a strained hamstring while Irving was out due to injury recovery for his shoulder that kept him out most of last season.
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić took advantage of the Nets’ lack of star power.
Luka Reacts To Larry Bird Comparisons
After the game, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Dončić about the comparisons he has been receiving between himself and Celtics legend Larry Bird. His answer was surprising, to say the least.
“More, more games to go. A long time before you can compare me to Larry Bird. I just want to keep hooping, have fun playing basketball,” Doncic said.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 28, 2021
Mavs Were Too Much for Depleted Nets
The stars were out on Saturday night as Dončić and James Harden went to battle in front of fans at Barclays Center.
Harden did all he could as he finished the night with 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists on the night.
Still, the firepower of the young, hungry Mavericks proved to be too much for the depleted Nets as four of Dallas’ starters scored in double figures. Dončić led the way as he finished with a stat line of 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Before the game Nets, head coach Steve Nash talked about the comparisons between himself and Luka.
Steve Nash Has High Praise for Luka
“Luka is one of the most exciting talents we’ve seen. Do I see some of myself in him? If I were 6-8 and 230 pounds, yeah. That’s a big difference when you’re 6-2, 175 pounds,” Nash said via Alex Schiffer of The Athletic.
Steve Nash on Luka Doncic: "Luka is one of the most exciting talent's we've seen. Do I see some of my myself in him? If I were 6-8 and 230 pounds, yeah. That's a big difference when you're 6-2, 175 pounds."
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) February 26, 2021
Nash also talked about Luka’s ability to draw fouls on defenders, which the two-time Most Valuable player feels is one of his best skills.
“You look at Luka. He poses every challenge in the book. He scores. He draws fouls. He makes plays for teammates at an elite level. Incredible size for a player of that skill,” Nash said via Callie Caplan of the Dallas News.
Nets coach Steve Nash, a former Mav on a current one: "You look at Luka. He poses every challenge in the book. He scores. He draws fouls. He makes plays for teammates at an elite level. Incredible size for a player of that skill."
— Callie Caplan (@CallieCaplan) February 27, 2021
Brooklyn’s nine-game win streak ended as the Nets lost in blowout fashion 115-98. Harden was the only player to hit the twenty-point mark as no other Nets player scored more than 12 points. Even though they were without two of their stars, that is inexcusable for a team that is vying for a championship.
Brooklyn’s nine-game win streak was the team’s best stretch of the season, and as crazy as it may sound it is thanks in part to Durant’s injury. When Durant went out, it forced the Nets to improve on their two biggest weaknesses this season, defensive effort, and bench production. Both have improved immensely over the last eight games.
Now that the win streak is over the Nets will get to start fresh when they take on the Spurs on Monday. Whether Irving will suit up is still in the air, but if he does not it will once again be up to the reserves to help Harden get the Nets back on track.